Oftentimes, you can tell with just a look if a building is residential or commercial. The same can be said for their roofs. While both commercial and residential roofs serve the same purpose: to protect the inside of their buildings from weather and the elements, that is often where their similarities end. Here are just some ways commercial roofing differs from residential.

DesignThis is the first thing people usually notice. Commercial roofs are much more flat than residential roofs. This is called the slope or pitch of the roof. Although commercial roofs may look completely flat, they often have a small pitch so that rainfall can drain properly and will not pool. Because of this small pitch, professionals often refer to them as low-slope roofing rather than flat roofing. Commercial roofs need to be flat- or nearly so- because they often house important equipment for the building including heating and cooling systems. A flat roof is also more practical to hold to this extra weight.

Commercial roofs tend to be much larger in square feet than residential roofs. The roof must be able to support not only itself but any extra equipment. For that reason, they need to be made with extremely durable materials. Although there are materials- such as metal and fiberglass, that can be used for both residential and commercial roofing, not all residential materials are suitable for commercial needs. Most often you find asphalt shingles, metal panels, and tile used on residential buildings. However, the most common commercial roofing materials include modified bitumen, asphalt, and synthetic rubber.

If you have had your home’s roof replaced recently, you know that process only takes a day or two. Residential roofs often have a much smaller area than commercial. Even when starting from scratch, a residential roof only consists of attaching wood boards to trusses, installing an underlayment, and then installing the actual roofing material you have chosen.

However, a commercial roof can take up to a month to install. Not only is there more area to cover, but you also often need specialized equipment both for the roof itself and for the safety of those installing it. A commercial roof is also comprised of layers of metal and insulation that must be installed first.


Size once again helps to highlight the differences between residential and commercial roofing. Because of their size and their slope, it is easy to look over your residential roofing for any damages- especially after a storm. You may even be able to replace broken shingles yourself (although it is always a good idea to call in the professionals). Asphalt shingles and metal panels may deteriorate over time as well. That is why it is important to regularly give your roof a visual inspection. It is also a good idea to keep your gutters clean at all times- especially during the fall and winter.

Maintenance of commercial roofing is a little more strenuous. Roofing contractors should be inspecting and maintaining commercial roofing every six months. Any damage to the roof could mean expensive repairs inside and out. Because of the larger surface area being exposed to the elements, there is more need for regular maintenance.

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